There is much speculation at the moment about how and when schools will open. At the time of writing, it is just that – speculation. One thing is certain though, at some point in the future we will be open and students will come back to our classrooms, some of whom with significant gaps in their learning. Whilst a large number of students will have engaged brilliantly with distance learning (and according to this 13 year old, some will have positively flourished), the reality is that some will have really struggled – especially those from a disadvantaged background. The attainment gap will have widened. A group of researchers in the USA have labelled this the ‘COVID19 slide’.
The graph above models the possible reduction in learning gains in maths as a result of school closure – the ‘COVID19 Slide’. Whilst the usefulness of this model could be questioned, as there will be variance between schools, subjects and students, it probably doesn’t matter. What does matter is that there will inevitably be a loss of learning and we need to be thinking about what sensible things we can be doing now and when students return to school to address this?
Whilst we are trying to mitigate this attainment gap in a number of ways through our approach to distance teaching (see here), Curriculum Leaders at Durrington are planing the following approach for when students do return to school:
- Whilst the closure continues, teachers are formatively assessing students to identify where the learning gaps are emerging. They are using a variety of tools such as Google forms to make multiple choice quizzes to assess how well students are understanding the topics they are learning at a distance. The maths team are using the quizzes on Hegarty Maths to do this. Teachers are then analysing this at a class level and keeping a record of topics where students are struggling. This will then be used to plan the focus of their teaching when students finally do return to school.
- Curriculum Leaders are focusing on producing similar assessments for when we open, with the sole purpose of identifying the learning gaps that have developed during this period. Some of these will be new, but some will be based on existing assessments that have been adapted. This is necessary, because the first strategy above, only allows you to assess the understanding of the students who are engaging with the distance learning. Using assessments like this when students are back in school will give us a much clearer picture of the gaps.
- Once we have identified the gaps using these assessments, teachers will focus on producing new homework tasks to target these areas and plan a readjusted curriculum to address these gaps. Other interventions might also be planned to target specific learning gaps.
There are lots of things that we can’t control at the moment, so worrying about them will only cause unnecessary anxiety. A much better use of our time and energy is to focus on the things we can control.